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In The Crime Drop in America, editors Alfred Blumstein and Joel Wallman concentrate on trying to explain the crime bust of the 1990s.(17) However, they also make frequent reference to the crime boomlet of the mid-1980s, and to a lesser extent, to earlier violent crime trends.(18) Blumstein is director of the National Consortium on Violence Research and Wallman is Program Officer at the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation--two organizations that have funded a great deal of research on violence and aggression in the past decade.
Blumstein shows that the entire increase in homicides during the crime boomlet of the mid-1980s can be attributed to rising handgun use among kids and young adults under twenty-five years old.(26) He also shows that these patterns were especially pronounced for young, African American men and for big cities.(27) What is especially striking about Blumstein's presentation of disaggregated violent crime trends is how dramatically they increase in the mid-1980s for young men using handguns.(28)
Personal matters, not to put too fine a point on it, always rear their Medusa heads just as Kennedy boomlets begin: the drowning, the divorce, even that old college cheating scandal.